"Frustrated ain't the G**Damned word for it!!! This is bullsh**!!!"
-Bret Hart, on RAW March 16, 1997
by Ervin Griffin Jr.
Some might be shocked at the recent attitude and actions of Bret Hart. But, in reality, we should've seen this move comming a long time ago. In fact, Hart's recent turn to "heel-dome" has actually been going on since 1995. What we are seeing now is the "flower" comming full bloom.
Let me explain, in November of 1994, Bret Hart lost the WWF Title to Mr. Bob Backlund in a controversial submission match. It was controversial because the cornerman for the respective wrestlers (Owen Hart for Backlund/Davey Boy Smith for Bret) was, officially, the only men who could stop the match by throwing in the towel for their wrestler. However, Bret's own mother, Helen, was the one that threw in the towel (with some manipulation from Owen) and caused Bret to lose the title!!! Four days later, Diesel (Kevin Nash) won the title in eight seconds in Madison Square Garden from Backlund. I cite both of these matches because I think they were factors in Bret's gradual return to rulebreaking.
You might be wondering where's the evidence? Well, in January of 1995, Bret made his return after recovering from shoulder injuries he recieved during the submission match. Diesel granted him a title shot during The Royal Rumble. If you've never seen this match, go to a video rental store and get it because you'll see what I mean in this match. This was the first match that I could recall since his days with the Hart Foundation that Bret was this devious!!! He used the ringpost on his legs, he tied Nash's feet around the ringpost so he could pound on him and used a steel chair on Nash's knee!!! I can't remember Nash actually breaking a rule unprovoked in this match!!!
Another indication was WrestleMania XII when he lost the title to Shawn Michaels. Granted, that "overtime" session was a bit bogus and did taint Michaels' win somewhat but the thing is that Bret didn't complain about it until he lost!!! If he had won, I guarantee you wouldn't have heard a peep out of him!!! Another bottom line was that Bret ACTUALLY had the advantage going into the overtime, so he didn't have any excuse at all!!! Shawn Michaels beat Bret cleanly, overtime or not, and that's the bottom line there!!!
Of course, I don't think I have to remind fans what has gone on since Bret's return at Survivor Series '96. Granted, he may have had a point in every incident that he's been "screwed" in but I have seen many wrestlers get messed over in big matches worse than what he's taken.
That said, I'll get to the point of this editorial and that's what affect will a Bret Hart heel turn have on the WWF. Personally, I think it is a pretty big gamble for them. I guess they saw how much the Hulk Hogan heel turn helped WCW and figured that it could help them too. However, it could bury them because having Hart as a heel could actually turn away fans!!! I know some people that will not watch the WWF because of the recent events with Bret. You might ask, "well what about "Stone Cold" Steve Austin?" Well, the perception with Austin is that he was always a bad guy and people don't really mind his "Stone Cold" persona. With Hart, however, people think of a scientific genius in the ring that is a gentleman outside the ring. This hardcore approach is good for Austin but may be disasterous for Bret because of their preconcieved images. In turn, the WWF may be doing themselves more harm than good.
Plus, this heel version of Hart is actually darker than his heel persona with the Hart Foundation. Recently, he's been talking about how Shawn Michaels poses for gay magazines, about how no one is giving him his shot and how everyone is messing with him. Well, I'll take one thing at a time. First, what Shawn Michaels does outside the ring is his problem and is of none of anyone's business!!! While I am not his biggest fan (I, too, don't go for all that dancing and stripping crap), he is a great performer and I look forward to seeing him back in the ring. To me, it is what he does in the ring that matters to me and he does it well!!! As far as title shots go, I think Bret has been giving more than his share of title shots. In fact, didn't he recieve a match against then-WWF Champion "Sycho" Sid after wrestling only one big match against Austin? Also, didn't he recieve recently a match against this same champion in a cage on RAW? Need I say more? Finally, he says that everyone is messing with him in his matches. Well Bret, you've been in wrestling long enough to know that that stuff happens in matches. It's not right, but you have to expect it. Besides, wern't you, more or less, messing with the Undertaker's chance at being WWF Champion at WrestleMania 13? While I don't condone UT's involvement in the cage match, I understand why he did it. Since when does a champion decide who he is going to wrestle? I said all along that whoever won should've faced UT anyway, not that crap they was going to pull!! In case your wondering what I am talking about, I am refering to the comment that Hart made about if he won the title from Sid in the cage, he would defend it against Austin and UT would have to wait for his chance down the road. Man, that would've been bogus!!! A contender that has earned a title match always got it at a big event regardless of who the champion was so why did they try to make this situation different!!! If you ask me, UT did what he had to do to save his title shot!!! They seem to be making Hart into a cross between Owen Hart and Steve Austin (the whinner and roughneck rolled into one)!!!
Anyway, that's how I look at it.
These opinions stated are strictly my own. If you have a question, comment, criticism, or want to debate me on this topic or some other related subject in pro wrestling, e-mail me at email@example.com
Ervin Griffin Jr. is a regular contributor to Solie's Wrestling Newsletter as well as the Ringside Insider and other publications.
TOP CURRENT INTERVIEWERS
by Russ Davidson
As we know, interviewing skills have become almost, if not more important, than actual wrestling ability. It is the main means to get a wrestler over with the fans, whether he is a heel or a face. This is my list of top interviewers, with in-the-ring shows factoring in as well:
1. Ric Flair: He fires up the crowd more than anyone-ever. Noone cares what he says or when he wrestles because he is larger than life. WHOOOO!!!!
2. Kevin Nash: Has come a long way in a short time. Doesn't rely on a gimmick, he is what he is. A regular guy who is very cocky and very funny. Should be the next top face/heel following Hogan and Flair.
3. Hollywood Hogan: His wrestling skills are almost gone. But he made the greatest heel turn in wrestling history and makes you hate him more than any other wrestler, bar none.
4. Arn Anderson: Almost makes you think it's real. "What you see is what you get", meaning it is almost his real life character, like Nash.
5. Steve McMichael: No wrestling ability, so he relies on making people laugh. Love the way he pokes fun at "Slappy Boy" Gene Okerlund.
6. Kevin Sullivan: No looks, little wrestling. Pulls over a sadistic demeanor and "no-holds-barred" ring repetoire. Makes people hate him or love him with his demeanor.
7. Scott Hall: He's funny, but should rely less on his Razor Ramon gimmick-still sounds like he's Mexican. Should learn by being in Nash's shadow, but he still makes you laugh.
8. Buff Bagwell: Five months ago he was a midcard boring face. When Bischoff turned him nWo, he let loose and has become hysterical and a badass. If he gets more of a deserved push, he will be real good.
9. Roddy Piper: Not nearly as over with the crowd as he was in WWF. Looks like it's his last gig and he doesn't really care. Even so, he still cracks you up with funny voice and body language.
10. Chris Benoit: Limited verbal skills, but being around Flair, AA and Mongo (as well as his ECE-style feud with booker K. Sullivan) he has developed into a true badass violent guy who you just have to love.
1. Steve Austin: No close second. I've never seen a heel loved by the crowd (other than Flair of the past). Not sure if it was McMahon's intentions, but he combines violence w/humor as good as anyone.
2. Undertaker: Doesn't need to speak. Relies on his gimmick to get the crowd over. Extremely believable for kids.
3. Mankind: see Undertaker. Didn't have same appeal when he was Cactus Jack (but had two complete ears!). Needs to be a little more "crazy".
4. Bret Hart: Average speaking ability, but crowd seems to buy it w/his popularity, face or heel. Will be a good "top face turned heel", but not as good as Hogan (as McMahon is hoping).
5. Shawn Michaels: His wrestling moves and looks are a dime a dozen in wrestling, so something had to make him popular. Now tries to be a "regular guy" like real-life friend Kevin Nash, so he'll get even better.
6. Owen Hart: Typical "bad guy" who doesn't care. Good speaking skills, but there are many like him now, so that's why he isn't higher.
7. GoldDust: Good gimmick, not much else other than being Dustybonics Rhodes' son. Does intimidate without saying much.
8. Hunter Hearst Helmsley: Typical hated "stuck-up English guy". Should work a little more on his "heel skills" to get completely over with the crowd.
9. Marc Mero: Has Sable by his side. Should use Little Richard gimmick a little more, well then again, maybe not.
10. Sycho Sid: I know, I know. He can't speak and he makes you switch over to Nitro. But so does every other WWF wrestler, which is exactly McMahon's problem.
If you have any suggestions or comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Solie's ECW Reporter, Russ Davidson, is a Graduate Student in Business at Pace University in New York, NY and has been a wrestling fan since 1985.
That's it for now. I'll be back with the Weekend Edition. Until then...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
Bret Hart's Weekly Column The Calgary Sun has started publishing Bret Hart's column on line so rather than continue to summarize it here from now on I will be putting this link to it so you can go peruse it for yourselves.
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